2014-15 Preview: The new guys

Yesterday, we provided our review of the returning letterwinners from last year’s Miami club that finished dead last in the inaugural NCHC regular season but just a goal away from a Frozen Faceoff championship. Now, let’s take a look at the new guys who will be called upon to do two specific things.

  1. Shore up the defensive corps that were so poor a year ago. Remember, despite having the top two scorers in the league

    A goal, a helmet-less Ryan McKay and no defenseman in sight. (photo: Bradley K. Olson)

    (senior captain Austin Czarnik and junior Riley Barber), Miami won just six league games and continually hung junior goaltenders Ryan McKay and Jay Williams out to dry.

  2. Add “Miami size” back into the lineup.

Defense

To address the defense, welcome 7th round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston College transfer, junior Colin Sullivan and highly regarded 3rd round pick of the Minnesota Wild, freshman Louie Belpedio.

Boston College transfer, Colin Sullivan, should contribute immediately on Miami’s blue line. (photo: Getty Images)

Colin Sullivan’s journey to Oxford is an interesting one. As you may know, Miami is the third collegiate program to which Sullivan has committed since his initial declaration to play at Yale beginning in the fall of 2013. However, the New Haven Register has reported that Sullivan agreed to play a season of junior hockey before enrolling at Yale and that Sullivan decided against it wanting to play college hockey immediately at the beginning of the 2012 season. With Yale’s incoming class having been filled, Sullivan re-opened his recruitment landing at Boston College. After scoring just one point in 32 games as a freshman with the Eagles in 2012-13, Sullivan who according to the Register had fallen out of BC’s top six, left the school just before the season started in October 2013 and played for Green Bay of the USHL last season. There, Sullivan had two goals and six assists in 41 games for the Gamblers. Sullivan brings size (6’1″ 205) and an impressive resume of prep hockey starring in the northeast. Here’s hoping Colin can recapture his game and elevate Miami’s top six back to where we are accustomed to seeing them.

Louie Belpedio (5’10” 193) is a “can’t miss” college prospect who last season led all USNTDP defensemen with five goals and was the second-leading scorer from the blue line with 15 points playing in all 26 games for the red, white and blue. Belpedio,

Freshman Louie Belpedio is a highly regarded defenseman from Illinois. (photo: Tom Sorensen)

who is just the latest highly regarded Chicago-area prospect to commit to Miami, captained Team USA to a gold medal in the Under-18 World Junior Championship in Finland in April notching two assists and a +3 rating in seven games. We expect big things from Belpedio over the course of his Miami career.

Size

Cue the music!

The 2013-14 season might best be remembered by the phrase, “they’re small, but Rico is trying to match up better against Hockey East schools.”

Well, if that was indeed true, it backfired big time.

The smallish RedHawks were routinely pushed around by the bigger squads of the NCHC, and even when matching against smaller, faster teams, deficiencies in physicality were apparent. Yet, there’s no question the current roster is probably the fastest group Miami has ever put on the ice, but with the addition of 6’5″ Nebraska-Omaha transfer, junior forward Andrew

At 6’6″, freshman forward Conor Lemirande is the tallest RedHawk since Justin Vaive.

Schmit and his “crash cousin” (I’m trademarking that one right now), 6’6″ freshman forward Conor Lemirande and the addition of 6’3″ freshman defenseman Scott Dornbrock, Miami returns to the days of Will Weber, Justin Vaive and Joe Hartman. I’m sure you’ll remember that size has always been a Miami hallmark throughout head coach Enrico Blasi’s tenure.

And, while I’m suggesting this new size means more physical play, I’m not going to negate the impact these three will make in other ways though Schmit has just one collegiate goal and 30 penalty minutes in 38 career games (but another 19 goals and 188 PIM in 105 games in the USHL) and Lemirande had 7 goals and a whopping 139 penalty minutes in 58 games for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL last season. As for Dornbrock, he had a more “typical” line with the NAHL’s Minot Minotaurs notching 7-17-24 and 41 PIM in 59 games from the blue line.

With Miami’s depth, it will be interesting to see if these three are in the lineup on a nightly basis. Of the three, I think Schmit will see the most ice time given his familiarity with the program as he was in the press box with the team all of last year sitting out following his transfer. I think Schmit will add size, toughness and leadership to a club that last year at times seemed to lack all three. Because, if it means anything based on our Twitter (@schmittythedog) interactions with him, he seems like a quality guy

Something's fishy here.

Something’s fishy here.

that we’re rooting for. We also believe he secretly loves “The Bachelor,” or perhaps something even better, but that has not been confirmed. We expect full disclosure soon.

Projected Lineup

Having not seen the team practice this season, and having not even played an exhibition yet, here’s our guess at how Miami will lineup when the puck drops for real on October 10 at Bowling Green.

Offense

Coleman – Czarnik – Murphy

Louis – Kuraly – Barber

Wideman – Morris – Doherty

Schmit/Mooney – Greenberg – Gacek

Other forward possibilities: Devin Loe, Lemirande – Actually, when you look at the roster like this, Jimmy Mullin’s injury really hurts the depth at forward. While I do not think we’ll be seeing Conor Lemirande on opening night, it’s completely reasonable to expect to see him soon, especially if there is any other injury concern. With the depth at defense, and the lack of it at forward, Michael Mooney’s move to forward makes even more sense now.

Defense

C. Joyaux – Caito

M. Joyaux – Sullivan

Belpedio – Hamilton

Other defense possibilities: Taylor Richart, Dornbrock, Ben Paulides – Rico will have his work cut out getting ice time for everyone but the depth here is dramatically better than last year when you figured his best play was to shift Matt Caito for 60 minutes and and take his chances.

So, there you are. The new guys. Welcome all to The Brotherhood and best of luck this year!

What do you think the opening night lineup will look like?

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Posted on September 28, 2014, in 2014-15 News and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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